Oregon Truffle Festival Features New Experiences, Events in 2021

By Matt Wastradowski

Most years, the Willamette Valley can scarcely catch its breath after the holidays before turning its collective attention to the Oregon Truffle Festival. Every winter, chefs at acclaimed restaurants prepare dishes for high-end meals; visitors learn about the delicacy in workshops and through hands-on cooking classes; and foragers train dogs how to sniff out the underground fungus.

But 2021 is not like most years, and the 2021 Oregon Truffle Festival will not look like most festivals. “It’s been a huge roller coaster ride for us,” admits Leslie Scott, co-founder of the Oregon Truffle Festival.

Scott says there was some discussion about canceling the festival this year and shifting her focus to 2022, especially since so much of the truffle experience is sensory—whether feeling the sponge-like treat in your hand, getting a whiff of the truffle’s distinctive odor, or experiencing its subtle flavors in a thoughtfully crafted dish. “But we also realized that it’s so important to our valley, our industry, and our partners to at least keep Oregon truffles top of mind this season,” she says.

So festival organizers got creative. The event, going strong since 2006, will shift its many events online in its 15th year. If you’d like to join the fun from home, here’s a bit more on what to expect, how the festival will differ in 2021, and more.

What is the Oregon Truffle Festival, and What Does It Celebrate?

Dog sniffing for truffles in the fores
Many foragers train dogs to sniff out truffles in area forests.

Since 2006, the Oregon Truffle Festival has celebrated one of the Willamette Valley’s most prized exports: truffles.

Truffles are a kind of mushroom that grows underground in the root systems of several species of tree, and have long been harvested for their culinary worth. Four native species of truffle grow in Oregon, largely in the Willamette Valley—an ideal spot for cultivation, given our vast forests, cool climate, and steady diet of rainfall. For her part, Scott calls the Willamette Valley “unquestionably, undeniably, one of the world’s great truffle regions.”

Given their value to high-end restaurateurs, truffles are the heart of a secretive industry—one where foragers are loath to give up their favorite spots or discuss their strategies. (Still, you can forage with the pros this winter and get a feel for what makes truffles so special.) As a result, the truffle remains shrouded in mystery, one the Oregon Truffle Festival hopes to solve with a variety of educational events each winter.

What’s New at the Oregon Truffle Festival in 2021?

Truffles put on a pizza slice on a table
Truffles have grown in popularity in recent years for the subtle flavors they bring to a variety of dishes—including pizza.

Naturally, those in-person events won’t happen in 2021—but there’s still plenty to be excited about for truffle fans and foragers alike. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect:

  • Educational Programming: Learn more about growing truffles with a virtual forum and farm tour in March.
  • Online Marketplace: Sometime in February, the Oregon Truffle Festival will launch an online marketplace through Built Oregon, where visitors can purchase truffle-infused products (such as chocolates and cheeses) for consumption at home.
  • Virtual Dinner Party with Chef Vitaly Paley: The James Beard Award-winning chef, a longtime champion of Oregon truffles, will host a virtual dinner party in late February—where attendees can try food-wine pairings and cook along at home.

Learn more about the events, as well as broader background information on truffles, on the Oregon Truffle Festival website.

Newberg Offers Inaugural Truffle Month

Even beyond the festival, the community of Newberg is getting in on the fun with its inaugural Truffle Month festivities.

Taste Newberg is putting on the event, which celebrates the importance of the truffle to the Willamette Valley—and showcases its many uses. The fun includes gourmet meals, tastings, sales, and truffle-inspired (and limited-time) food menus.

The Allison Inn & Spa, for instance, is offering a one-night truffle package for up to two guests; the weekend offering includes a three-course, truffle-themed dinner—served in-room. And in downtown Newberg, Anam Cara Cellars will sell truffled popcorn at its Saturday tastings through the end of February.

Visit the Taste Newberg website for more information about the community’s Truffle Month festivities.